We have a lot to learn from our ancestors and their ancient wedding traditions. Some of these rituals and practices have carried over into present day, remaining true to their roots or taking on new form. Unfortunately many of these sacred wedding symbols have been lost with time. One thing has remained constant: The most important parts of a wedding are family, tradition and memories. Many of the traditions mentioned below were started in ancient times and are inspired by the Irish countryside and the Irish people's direct relationship with the earth. 

In today's world, these traditions would be considered eco-friendly, although in the past everything was done with nature in mind. These rituals included outdoor weddings, the gathering of wildflowers and herbs for a bouquet or floral crown, saving the wedding cake for the first baby's baptism, using all natural and local ingredients and seeing the couple off with ringing bells.

True Blue

It's not always all about Kelly green, in fact green was considered unlucky and could entice malicious fairies. In Ireland, blue is considered to be a very important color.  Blue symbolized purity in ancient times before white became the universal symbol for virginity.

Blue tulle wedding dress with pink bouquet
Photo: Brass Paper Clip
 
Blue Lace Sash Mermaid Dress
Photo: Pure Magnolia

Turn Your Ring Towards Your Heart

Claddagh rings were originally worn in the town of Claddagh, in Galway, Ireland. Their traditional purpose at that time was solely to show marital status.  If you were courting, the ring would be worn on the right hand with the heart facing outwards to show that your heart had not yet been taken. Once engaged, the heart was turned inward toward your own heart to show that you were now taken. Once married, the ring was moved to the left hand with the heart still facing toward you as a sign of commitment and love.

Gold claddagh ring

Beautiful Be-Ribboned Braids

To prepare for their wedding day, many Irish brides braided their hair. The braids were adorned with ribbon and lace woven throughout. Braided hair is an ancient Irish symbol of feminine power and luck. 

Hair braided with ribbon
Photo: Emmaline Bridal

Floral Crowns are the New Veil

Many Irish brides wore a wreath of local and sustainable wildflowers in their hair instead of a veil and carried a wildflower bouquet with herbs to match. How much greener can you get?!

Floral Crowns Boho
Photo: WeHeartIt

Handfasting Ceremony = Tie the Knot

Handfasting is an ancient Celtic tradition where the partners hold hands with their wrists crossed.  A ribbon is wound around the top of one wrist and under and around the other wrist, creating the infinity symbol. This practice eventually became known as "Tying the Knot," hence the modern day usage.

Handfasting couple
Photo: Green Wedding Shoes

Don't Waste the Whiskey Cake

The top tier of the wedding cake was traditionally whiskey cake and was saved until the couple's first born child was baptized and eaten on that day. After the ceremony, if a bride's mother-in-law broke a piece of cake over the bride's head, they would be friends for life.

Irish wedding cake
Photo: MagicalDay

Ring My Bell

Giving a "Make-up Bell" as a wedding gift is another long standing Irish tradition. Bells were thought to ward off evil spirits and were also used if the married couple had an argument. One of the newlyweds would ring the bell as a way to end the fight and make a truce, reminding them of their wedding vows.  In more modern times, wedding guests have also been known to ring bells at the departing newlyweds, which is a great eco-friendly alternative to throwing rice or blowing bubbles.

Wedding bells
Photo: Green Wedding Shoes